1 EAGLETON NOTES: September 2013



Sunday 29 September 2013

Is It Me

or is this really a rather ludicrous price for a waste bin?  I'm not generally known for being careful with money but......  And before you say anything it should technically be 'Is it I' according to Fowler but there again....

Saturday 28 September 2013

A Career Starts

and ends almost as quickly.

When I left school I joined Ayrton Saunders Ltd, a Liverpool firm of Manufacturing Chemists with considerable interests abroad, whose headquarters was in Hanover Street in Liverpool's city centre where the company had been established in 1868.  The 1898 archive material gives a lively read of what it was like to visit the company's premises at that time.

I joined the firm as a trainee accountant in those same premises.  I think that I lasted about 6 weeks.  Accountancy wasn't for me despite maths being one of my strongest subjects.  That six weeks did give me plenty of stories though.  

I never set foot inside the building once I'd left and in the last 40 years I've rarely walked down Hanover Street.  When CJ and I were in Liverpool during August I went to see whether the building was still there.  It was.

Hanover Street is narrow so taking a photo of the building was quite a challenge.  The parallax effect of viewing from so close was unavoidable so I'll call it an artistic view.  The name of Ayrton Saunders can be seen underneath "Gostin Furniture" on the apex of the facade.

Thursday 26 September 2013

Thankful Thursday: A Toast

For the last few hours I have been sitting with my laptop on my knee trying to think of something original to say for Thankful Thursday.  I've been going through the things for which I am thankful and although they are many and varied I just couldn't get any ideas to put on paper (so to speak).  Then I read Jaz's post.  Immediately it occurred to me that I didn't need to think so much and look too far.  The obvious is all around me.

I have just poured a wee cognac and I have raised my glass to Jaz who, today, wrote this: (sorry Jaz for the appalling breach of copyright)

I had a particularly thankful day today.

I love Thursdays.
I teach music all day on a Thursday.

I watched kids perform music better than they thought they would/could. Despite technical difficulties and very little practice time. They did it. 
They all smiled.
Never underestimate the greatness within any child.

I am thankful for the hugs I gave and received today.
I never underestimate the power of a hug.

I am especially thankful for the courage Anne Spensley brought me up with............and to have found within myself. I looked at my music exam certificates today and smiled.
Never underestimate yourself.

Do you hear that Jaz?...............................never underestimate yourself.

You have nearly made it through another year.
Another year alive.
If I had a glass I'd probably drink to that!

Jaz xx

Wednesday 25 September 2013

The Americas Cup

I can't say that I've ever been particularly interested in sailing as a spectator sport in general nor in the Americas Cup in particular.  Ever since happening to see the race where Emirates Team New Zealand nearly tipped their boat I have been following it very enthusiastically and as it was about 8 races to 2 to the New Zealand team I assumed that it would be fairly certain that the one race they needed to win the Cup would happen before too long.

I should have known better.  Many times have I seen golf croquet matches which have been 6 :1 down being won 6:7 to the underdog (and having remarkably often been in such games and won them - we remember the ones we win more readily than the ones we lose).  No game is over until it is really over!

So ever since that moment when the New Zealand boat nearly toppled I have been following the proceedings avidly.

The Americas Cup is sailing's premier event and is a best-of-17-race series in 72ft catamarans.

There are two teams entered this year:

Oracle, for the US, require 11 victories to win the series, while the Kiwis need 9 after the US team were docked two points for illegally modifying catamarans.

The winners of the 162-year-old event - it is sport's oldest trophy - get to choose the venue and format of the next America's Cup.

The US boat Oracle is bankrolled by software billionaire Larry Ellison and, having won in 2010, elected to develop the high-speed multihulls with rigid wing sails to help make the sport more exciting for spectators and on television.  These controversial boats, which push the boundaries of design and performance, have attracted criticism for being too dangerous and difficult to sail in certain situations.

It was the New Zealanders who first interpreted the class design rule to pioneer the use of 'foiling' technology on keels and rudders which allows the boats to lift clear of the water and achieve speeds over 50mph.

Oracle, with five-time British Olympian Ben Ainslie in a support role, have long been training with two boats but their race team will be helmed by James Spithill of Australia.  The American entry is led by Kiwi sailing great Russell Coutts, 51, a four-time America's Cup winner who steered Team New Zealand to the country's first America's Cup triumph in 1995 and was again at the helm for the successful defence against Luna Rossa in 2000.

In the run-up to this year's event, Coutts and countryman Grant Dalton, 56, of Team New Zealand clashed publicly and the two teams have sparred regularly in the media.

The America's Cup was first contested in 1851 when US yacht America won a race around the Isle of Wight off the south coast of England. The trophy, since dubbed the 'Auld Mug', was renamed the America's Cup and is seen as the pinnacle of yacht racing.

As I write this at 21:15 UK time on Wednesday 25 September the last and deciding race is being run.  Unfortunately I cannot watch it live in the UK nor can I watch the live NZTV coverage on the internet here in the UK.  So am relying on updates as they are published but internet difficulties at the moment are even making that a nail-biting experience.  All I can do is hold my breath as Team NZ are ahead at the leeward gate.  Oracle round the third mark with a big lead, now 26 seconds up. Oracle round the final mark and sprint to the finish for the last time - they've stretched the lead to 39 seconds.  Oracle have crossed the line 44 seconds ahead of ETNZ.

When I started this last week it was to be a celebration post.  Now it's got to this stage I suggest that you don't even bother to start reading it.  I should have put that sentence at the beginning shouldn't I?

They Haven't Read The Book

I always used to be a little sceptical about the 'fact' that if one bas one's feet off the ground a bull will not attack.  So the advice, if being pursued, was always climb up the nearest thing however low it is.  I was never sure that I'd trust the bull to have read the same book and conform.

Likewise primroses are flowers that bloom in the Spring tra la.  Leastways they are supposed to.  However in my last garden years ago there were always primroses poking their heads out of a grassy bank somewhere whatever the time of year.  In this garden I have had a distinct lack of success in establishing primroses although this year I am making a BIG effort.  However last year I planted a couple and over the last few days they have started to flower and it's Autumn.  They obviously haven't read the label on the pot they came in.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Bountiful Summer

Everywhere there is evidence of the bountiful fruits of summer.  The Rowan Trees (Mountain Ash to some people) are particularly beautiful this year:

Monday 23 September 2013

Like Topsy* They Grow

Green energy.  Of course I'm in favour.  Am I convinced of the economic voracity?  Am I a NIMBY?  I don't know.  I believe that the largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere is in New Zealand.  It is sited all along the top of a range of mountains.  It is huge.  It is visible for miles and miles around and it's a significant tourist attraction.  It's  astonishingly beautiful. It provides a lot of New Zealand's electricity.  It's also a long way from any habitation.  So why have I got an uneasy feeling about the ones which are springing up around the Stornoway area.  Somehow their vague randomness seems  more intrusive and untidy.   One minute you have this:

and the next you have this:

* For those who don't know who Topsy was she was Topsy a young slave girl in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. When asked if she knows who made her, she professes ignorance of both God and a mother, saying "I s'pect I growed"

Sunday 22 September 2013

A Sense of Humour

or a political statement?  It could, of course, be both.  Either way I'm waiting to see where the next one will pop up.

Saturday 21 September 2013

Vandalism or Whimsy?

Frances Garrood, novelist, mad horsewoman, loveable eccentric (I just made that one up 'cos it came into my mind) posted today on the esoteric philosophical subject of pareidolia.  Of course you know what that is but just in case you are struggling trying to recall the last time it came up in a cross-word it's the psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant, a form of apophenia. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon, and hearing hidden messages on records when played in reverse. Frances, very sensibly, just called it seeing faces in things.  I understood that.

Apparently she sees faces in all sorts of things, particularly light switches.  C'est trĂ©s bizarre.  As I have no imagination it's never been something with which I was (or am) afflicted.  However I did rather like the idea of faces in lights witches.  So, Frances, you can take the blame for the fact that I have decided to make it my mission in life to ensure that everyone has a smiley face light switch.  The first in my campaign is in my own hall.  Actually I think it looks more like Thomas The Tank Engine.  The photo shows not only that I didn't bother to adjust the lighting but also that I don't even have the artistic ability to draw a mouth without it being decidedly lopsided.  C'est la vie.  Not only that but the screws are not lined up properly.  Quel dommage.

I had decided that now that I have managed to reach the childhood I missed out on by being born with my pension book in my hand (my Mother's words) I would celebrate this new-found childhood with some graphic vandalism and put a smiley face in each hotel room in which I stay.  Frances implied that the use of white board felt-tip pens for the purpose was a feeble attempt at such a career.  Ho hum.  Failed again.  C'est plus de la vie.  (here demonstrating that I can, at least, get by with a few French frazes).

Enjoy what's left of your weekend. 

Thursday 19 September 2013

Thankful Thursday

There was a discussion on the morning news programme yesterday about switching on the central heating.  The views varied from "we never switch the central heating on before the 1 December and then we might consider it" to "if I'm cold I put the heating on regardless".    Quite a few people said that if it got cold the simple and sensible thing to do was to put more clothes on.  My time spent in New Zealand has made me realise how places differ.  In NZ it is - or has been until recently - the norm to dress according to the weather and central heating is - or was - not the norm although heat pumps (ie air conditioning) are becoming the norm these days.

People differ too.  CJ's and my mother felt the cold very much indeed and always had the living room at a temperature the rest of us could barely tolerate.  Our father on the other hand couldn't stand the heat and seemed totally immune to the cold.  Now as we are older CJ has taken after Dad and I've taken after Mum.

Whatever the time of year it is I keep my house above 20℃ and preferably nearer 23℃.  If that means heating the house using the central heating then so be it.  Fortunately my house is very well insulated (apart from the conservatories which are largely doubled glazed and plastic) and heat loss is relatively low.

So today, when we have just endured almost a week of cold and windy weather, I am thankful, in fact I am more than thankful, for the fact that I am able to heat my house and be comfortable.  I am more and more conscious of how fortunate it is to have the luxury of warmth.

Wednesday 18 September 2013

This Is Not An Advert

When I was a child there were two ointments in our house that I can recall with absolute clarity: Germolene and Zam-Buk.  There were also two anti-septics, in addition to iodine:  TCP and Dettol.

I have been an advocator and user of Germolene for as long as I have been a lover of Marmite ie for as long as I can remember.

Germolene and Zam-Buk both came in a tin and each had a very distinctive smell.

Zam-Buk seemed to disappear many years ago until about a decade ago I saw it advertised in our local pharmacy as a nostalgic product.  That it certainly was.  There is something wonderfully comforting about things from our childhood that we perceived to have been soothing and good for us.

I bought some but apart from opening the tin in order to savour its aroma I don't think I ever used it and it's no longer in my medicine kit. 

Then some years ago Germolene ointment was joined by Germolene cream.  It is a pale imitation  both in colour, substance and smell of the real thing and I have never developed a liking for it.

A few weeks ago I went into a pharmacy in Glasgow to get a tube of Germolene ointment.  There was none on the shelf and the assistant looked puzzled and said that she'd have to get some from the stock.  The pharmacist then intervened to say that there were production problems with the ointment and it wasn't available at the moment.  Disaster.  Finding Germolene ointment became a quest over the next few days.  Life without it is unthinkable.  Various pharmacies just said thy must be waiting for it to come in but one said that it was no longer in production because people didn't use ointment any more they preferred creams.  I don't!  Boots said it was still available on prescription.  So every time I saw a pharmacy I popped in and eventually found a few odd tubes left on shelves.  I'm ok for a year or three.

Then I was back on Lewis and in Stornoway the shelf of a local pharmacy was full of the ointment.  Had there been a problem?  Apparently not and on looking up the computer it's still available for ordering.  So I'm a happy bunny again.  It's the most useful product I know of.  Whatever external part of the body has a problem Germolene Ointment will solve it.  Believe me!

Tuesday 17 September 2013

West Wemyss - Revisited

Mersad said in a comment on the last post that he's like to see a photo of the beach at West Wemyss.  David's response was to take these photos this morning:

Saturday 14 September 2013

A Walk at West Wemyss

Every morning and evening Molly gets her walk along the banks of the Firth of Forth.  Just over a week ago I joined her and David on their evening walk.  Unfortunately the light was not good for photography which was a shame given the wildlife along the shore.  I was able to salvage the following of a curlew and a common seal:

The rose hips were, on the other hand, part of the most bountiful and beautiful displays I have ever seen:

Thursday 12 September 2013

Thankful Thursday

It's been a strange day.  Strange but good.  I rose expecting a quiet day ahead.  As I was contemplating breakfast Gaz Skyped to ask if I could pop out to the house site and see the chap who's doing the foundations and get some information.  No bother at all.  I'd just arranged to have coffee in town with a friend so it all fitted in well.  During my driving and whilst doing various other tasks today I wrote a dozen Thankful Thursday posts.  Can I think of a single one as I come to commit thoughts to paper (well to the ether actually)?  No.  So being thankful for having a good memory isn't one of them I guess.  In fact I've always had a really terrible memory.  Bummer really.  What was I saying?  Oh yes.  Thankful Thursday.

Did you know that King James IV is reputed to have believed that children were born with a 'natural' language?  To find out he had two newly born children brought up in isolation on a remote Island with a dumb nursemaid.  I have no idea what the outcome was although I think we can safely assume that the children didn't grow up speaking Scots.  Kink James' native language was, I believe, Scots, although he also spoke Latin, very well and French, German, Flemish, Italian, and Spanish fluently.  It was rather a tragedy that such a monarch - probably the best of the Stuart line - should have seen the defeat of his nation to the English at the Battle of Flodden 500 years ago. 

Well so far I'm not doing very well.  Perhaps if I wait until tomorrow the ideas will return.  Then again....  Did you know that the following are the International Holidays for this month?

Sep 08International Literacy Day
Sep 13International Chocolate Day
Sep 15Software Freedom Day
Sep 16International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer
Sep 19Talk Like a Pirate Day
Sep 21World Gratitude Day
Sep 22World Car-Free Day
Sep 29Inventors Day

No? Nor did I. You'll notice that September 21 is World Gratitude Day. They've stolen your idea Jaz.

Me? I'm just thankful that I've managed to get through Thursday unscathed.  Well, assuming nothing untoward happens in the next 1 hour 50 minutes..

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Garry Sands

These sands just north of Tolsta on Lewis were a favourite of ours and of our children when they were young.  I took Helen and Ian to see them when they were here in August (it seems such a long time ago).  At one end of the beach there are caves and rocks and the tide was exceptionally low so we were able to see them to their best advantage.

Tuesday 10 September 2013


I woke this morning to a complete change in the weather.  That's not unusual and it just means that I shall do inside things and not get out into the garden as I had hoped.  However the real effect is on my level of motivation.  Yesterday I was alive and raring to go and, indeed, went into town, met a friend for coffee, got things done and then came home and did lots in the garden.

This morning it's all I can do to work up the enthusiasm to have a shower and tackle the long list of indoor things.  Not that I have a choice. I have an avocado mousse to make 'cos I have a friend coming for dinner tonight, and Spesh (She Who Loves Pink) and Dave coming for dinner tomorrow.  Wonderful opportunities to catch up and enjoy the company of friends.

I just wish that I could shut the lid on the laptop, get my bum off the seat and get on with the day.  But then in an hour the sun might be out and everything will change.

Today From My Window

Monday 9 September 2013

Another Post For Spesh

Spesh loves pink.  If you are going to have a pink car though this is the car to have:

Definitely not this one - it was hideous!

Both cars were at Parkgate on the Wirral.  What is it with that area?

Sunday 8 September 2013

The SI Unit of Magnetic Flux

One of the things that CJ and I enjoy is doing crosswords with our morning coffee.  We usually do the Times 2 general-knowledge crosswords.  However when we were in Chester I left the book in the car.  At The Patisserie Valerie where we had coffee and cakes there was a Daily Telegraph for customers use and I knew that it had a large weekend general-knowledge crossword.  So we decided to do the top third.  All was going reasonably well until we arrived at the following clue: SI unit of magnetic flux density.  It is one thing not knowing the answer to a general-knowledge question however it is entirely another when the question itself is entirely beyond one's comprehension.  In this case neither of us had the vaguest idea what magnetic flux density was never mind what an SI unit was or was likely to be called.    

Having admitted defeat I decided to Google it (aren't modern smartphones wonderful?) only to find that the answer "weber" didn't fit in with the starting letter T which we knew to be correct given that the word eight derived from the clue to 18 across: ..... days a week (Beatles' Song).

Adrian, engineer, sorter of photographic problems and solver of cryptic crosswords has now enlightened me: it's a Tesla.  

Saturday 7 September 2013

An Emotional Homecoming

I arrived back in my Eagleton home last night.  The ferry was quite bumpy which was a bit of a surprise given that it was flat calm with no wind in Ullapool.  Once out of Loch Broom however the swell did make itself known just as the Captain had warned when we left port for the 2h 40m crossing.  Fortunately for me I'm a good sailor (provided I don't have to lie down).

This morning just before I started this post I replied to an email from a friend in New Zealand and ended by saying "This morning it's windy, cold and wet: weather I understand. I'm home in Scotland. Only 57 days 12 hours and 39 minutes before I leave for warmer climes. But who's counting?".  Life is never that simple though and by late afternoon the sun shone out of a cloudless sky although it was still very windy and chilly.  That's Lewis for you.  That's Scotland for you.

I've been away for nearly three weeks and enjoyed almost every minute.  I've enjoyed excellent companionship and hospitality and slept in lovely comfortable beds but there is nothing like being back in one's own space.

Most of you will know that I was born in Liverpool.  Many of you will know that I regard nationalism  as anathema being one of the great scourges of humanity which has caused so much misery and death throughout history.  Driving north out of the great conurbations of Lancashire and through the former counties of Westmorland and Cumberland into the lowlands of Scotland I felt a real sense of being on my way home.  Driving towards Ullapool from Inverness until I was safely on the ferry I felt more than ever the overwhelming sense of returning home and of belonging in the Hebrides.  It's also a feeling I get when the plane crawls out of the sky over  the foothills of the ranges and into Napier.

My birthplace was entirely beyond my control.  Where is choose to call my home isn't.  Whatever my nationality may be on my passport I am a Hebridean Kiwi in my heart.

Thursday 5 September 2013

Thankful Thursday

Last week Fi from Four Paws and Whiskers posted Friday at last. Fi started with the words "I love turning off my alarm clock on a Friday morning knowing it wont go off again tomorrow." Then Meike commented "I love my job, but I also love being master of my own time."

It made me realise how fortunate I am not to have to worry about when I get up or, for that matter, when I go to bed. As a general rule that is. When I have to catch an early ferry I have to be up at around 0445 and that is well before my natural waking time (which is usually between 0600 and 0700). On those rare days (which I have to say that I do not enjoy until I am actually up and out) I do set an alarm: in fact I set my bedside clock, my house phone and my cellphone. But then being an 'Edwards' it is very important not to be late. In fact if you are late for the ferry you've missed it anyway.

So today I am thankful, very thankful, that I am the master of my own time.

Sunday 1 September 2013

What's In A Name?

How important names are.  Not just to us as individuals but to marketing as well.  When I was a lad, and  long before, one of the most prestigious jewellery shops in Liverpool was Boodle and Dunthorne. Today I see that it has altered its image and has become simply Boodles.  Frankly to me Boodle and Dunthorne oozes quality and a certain 'something' but Boodles is just, well, Boodles and, frankly, could well be anything.  That's probably just me though.  

I do like the little touch whereby the BD is retained intertwined within the first O of Boodles.  The stainless steel superlambanana is rather classy too (insofar as anything quite so whimsical can be called classy).  I think, by the way, that the chap in the photos is the shop's security chap.  The days of the top-hatted doorman are gone.  You can, however, still find morning-coated, top-hatted security people at the Argyle (Jewellery store) Parade in Glasgow.